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A qualitative assessment of pitch-perception skills of cochlear implant and hearing aid users
Jayakody D.
, Looi V. , Lin E.
Ear Science Institute Australia, Subiaco, Australia, 2University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, 3University of Canterbury, Christchurch,
New Zealand, 4Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre, Sydney, Australia
Background: Cochlear implant (CI) and hearing aid (HA) users demonstrate excellent open-set speech
discrimination in quiet (Ching et al., 2006; Fetterman & Domico, 2002). However, perception of pitch-related
speech and music perception skills remain a challenge to them (Looi et al, 2008, Jayakody, 2012).
Purpose: This study developed and administered questionnaires to compare ease of performing pitch-related
speech and music tasks of pre-and post-lingually deafened cochlear implant (CI) recipients and post-lingually
deafened adult hearing aid (HA) users before and after completing a pitch-training program.
Method: Sixteen postlingually deafened adult CI recipients (mean = 59.06 years), 20 postlingually deafened
adult HA users (mean = 64.75 years) and six prelingually deafened children using CIs (mean = 16 years) took
part in the study. Firstly, participants were asked to complete a pre-training questionnaire. The pre-training
questionnaire was organized into five areas: music listening preference, formal music training experience,
informal music training experience, ease of performing pitch-related identification tasks, and attendance at
music-related activities. Based on the results obtained from the pre-training questionnaire, a home-based
computer based training program was developed to help CI recipients and HA users improve their pitch-related
speech and music skills. Participants were asked to this training program over 10 weeks. Following completion, a
post-training evaluation questionnaire was administered to obtain a qualitative evaluation of participants'
perception of pitch related speech and music tasks post-training.
Results: The results obtained from pre-training musical background questionnaire suggested that both pre-and
postlingually deafened CI recipients and postlingually deafened HA users have difficulty in perceiving pitchrelated aspects of speech and music skills in their daily life. Results also revealed that since receiving the CI, a
majority of postlingually deafened CI recipients stopped taking part in music related activities. However, 70% of
the CI children reported that the music sounded better through their implant over the years. 25% of the HA users
reported that music sounds different through their HA. Post-training evaluation questionnaire results revealed
that both post-lingually deafened adult CI and HA users found significant (p = 0.005) improvement in pitchrelated aspects of speech and music skills after the training. The CI children reported no significant improvement
in any of the pitch-related speech and music tasks with training.
Conclusion: Overall, pitch- related speech and music skills of both postlingually deafened adult CI and HA
users can be improved with training.